Nick Cave on being a centrist: “I just don’t really know about anything for sure”
Nick Cave has opened up about holding centrist political views, saying that he doesn’t “really know about anything for sure”.
In the latest post on his Red Hand Files Q&A website, the Bad Seeds frontman responded to a fan, Daphne, who asked him if he liked raisins.
She said: “I feel like I don’t ever know what I want or what to think and how I am just always confused about things, and I suppose hating raisins has been a pretty consistent thing in my life and in that sense I guess I should be grateful for it. And maybe try to like them in that way.”
Another follower, Alister, submitted the question: “Where do you sit politically[?] I can never work it out. You seem all over the bloody place.”
In response, Cave – who has previously spoken about his aversion to bringing politics into his lyrics – wrote: “There is much in your letters that resonates with me, and that is the raisin why I am writing to you.
“Daphne, you seem to hold a position, or rather a non-position, on things that is, in a way, similar to mine. I guess we inhabit a particular space within the world, you and I, somewhere in the midst of things, somewhere in the centre.”
He continued: “Séan O’Hagan, my dear friend, and co-author of the publishing sensation, [Cave’s 2022 memoir] Faith, Hope and Carnage, said to me this morning, ‘You centrists are the worst. You don’t know where you stand. You’re like fucking leaves in the wind,’ by which I think he meant that I had no conviction, which is to some degree true.
“It is often the case with us songwriter types because we have found that a more inquiring, more expansive, less-entrenched position serves us better in the pursuit of the illusive but beautiful idea.
“In the centre we feel freer, less restricted, less dogmatised, less bigoted. We see the world as essentially mysterious, often mystical, and we are humbled by it, in so far as we do not claim to know or fully understand it. We dance nimbly about, following our distinctive desires, our interests, wherever they may take us, with humility, with curiosity, with uncertainty.”
Cave went on: “We feel we don’t need to live within the prescribed imaginations of others. We are open to persuasion, yet forever ourselves. We understand too that the centre is indeed held together by its extremities, and we need the radicals to mark out the boundaries within which we play.
“I tried to make my position, such as it is, feel more dangerous and sexy, by describing myself to Séan as alt-centre, but he wasn’t having it. ‘You guys just blow whichever way the wind goes,’ he muttered, gloomily. He was in a dark and defeated mood this morning. ‘Jesus, man, what’s wrong with you?’ I asked, ‘Have you been reading the Guardian?’”
But Cave admitted that O’Hagan “was on to something”, adding: “He understands me well, better than most.
“At the end of the day, I just don’t really know about anything for sure. I am simply not certain about things, except perhaps this – on those rare occasions when I am irrevocably convinced of my own position and have that surge of righteousness roaring through my raisins, I am often plain wrong.”
He explained: “Mainly, though, I feel I’m just tossed around like that leaf, batted this way and that, by those broad and inquisitive winds, baffled and humbled by the world, curious and mostly awed, with no real port of call but God, Himself.”
As for his views on raisins, Cave said they “do have a grim, scrotal horribleness, but like all things in this world – you, me and every other little thing – they have their place”. He concluded: “Be kind.”
In other news, Cave recently announced a run of North American headline concerts for later this year.
The singer also made headlines last month after he described the late poet and novelist Charles Bukowski as “the bukkake of bad poetry” on his Red Hand Files site.